US general recommends India pick Lockheed plane over Boeing

BANGALORE, India - A US general has recommended the Indian Air Force choose Lockheed Martin’s F-16 over Boeing’s F-18, saying it was important for the two countries to fly a common aircraft.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 11 Feb 2007, 4:50 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:54 PM

With the two US manufacturers competing for the lucrative Indian fighter plane contract, Major General Eric J. Rosborg said choosing the F-16 would enable India’s air force to build ‘an enduring relationship’ with its US equivalent, which already flies the plane.

‘With a common aircraft comes a common understanding of how to operate, logistics, training,’ he said in an interview at the Indian air show that ends Sunday in this southern high-technology hub. ‘The F-16 is our choice.’

Lockheed and Boeing are vying with the Russian Aircraft Corp., Dassault Aviation of France, Sweden’s Saab and the Eurofighter consortium for the contract, potentially worth nine billion dollars.

India plans to float an international tender ‘at the earliest’, inviting potential suppliers to submit bids, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in Bangalore, where the contenders for the deal showed off their machines.

The US Air Force does not fly the F-18, and Rosborg’s remarks are a rare instance of a US military officer favouring one American manufacturer over another in the running for an international contract.

Rosborg, who discussed the fighter-plane deal at his meetings with Indian officials in Bangalore, said he was speaking purely as an air force man in plumping for the F-16.

The Lockheed product, 4,300 of which have been produced, is the ‘world’s most combat-experienced’ fighter plane, said Rosborg, assistant deputy undersecretary of the air force, international affairs.

He said the plane ‘has performed magnificiently,’ had low life-cycle costs, boasted high reliability and ‘unbeatable’ mission-capable rates.

‘I’m not an airplane salesman,’ said the general, who has flown the F-16 in combat.

‘The US government has two planes in this competition and wants a level playing field for these,’ he said. ‘May the better plane win.’



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